Poland’s ruling party prepared to split with coalition partner for EU cash

Pressure from Solidarity Poland and its leader, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, has been the main driving force behind PiS’ tough stance on the Commission’s objections on judicial changes. [EPA-EFE / PIOTR NOWAK]

The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party is considering a split with its eurosceptic junior coalition partner Solidarity Poland. The party hopes this will help unblock the deadlock between the government and the European Commission over the money from the Next Generation EU fund, several media, including leading Gazeta Wyborcza daily, reported on Sunday.

Pressure from Solidarity Poland and its leader, Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, has been the main driving force behind PiS’ tough stance on the Commission’s objections on judicial changes that the coalition led by PiS has pursued since coming to power in 2015 which the EU considers to be undermining the rule of law in Poland. Ziobro strongly opposes what he argues is Brussels’ meddling in the Polish judiciary.

Last year, the Commission suspended the approval of Poland’s recovery plan, which is a prerequisite for the Next Generation EU resources to be released. EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni then admitted that the reason was the Polish Constitutional Tribunal’s ruling challenging the primacy of EU law over the country’s legal system.

“New order in the ruling camp. Release of the billions from the EU’s Recovery Fund. Even at the cost of dismissing Ziobro from the government. Those are the main plans of [PiS’ leader] Jarosław Kaczyński for 2022. Without all that, PiS can forget about the third term in office,” political scientist and former MP Andrzej Anusz said. According to him, “Kaczyński prepares for a scenario of a minority government without Ziobro.”

Anonymous PiS members confirmed in comments to Gazeta Wyborcza that the option of breaking up with Solidarity Poland is on the table, but that the reason behind the possible split has more to do with Solidarity Poland’s rising power in the coalition than with EU money.

Kaczyński does not want Ziobro to gain too much influence in the government and blackmail PiS, they explain.

(Aleksandra Krzysztoszek | EURACTIV.pl)

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